Historical Libriry of Zagora

The biggest village of Pelion was at its commercial and cultural peak in the 17th and 18th Centuries, It is the birth place of G. Kordatos, a distinguished historian. There are texts dating back to the Byzantine era that mention Pelion by the name Zagora. The library of Zagora with thousands of rare books is of great interest.

The school of Rigas Ferreos or Hellenic museum as it was known, the oldest school on Pelion, Kallinikos Lapatis (Patriarch of Constantinopole) and the bard of the Greeks Rigas Fereos were students of the school among others.
The town of Zagora lies in the very heart of Pelion forest. From the Middle Ages onwards there are plenty of records documenting the rise and prosperity of Zagora.


Due to the certain administrative and economical privileges given by the Ottoman Empire to the Pelion area, Zagora steadily grew into a very important commercial and manufacturing centre. During the 17th and 18th century, the famous Zagorian silk and woolen clothes were sent to Constantinople, smirna and other important trading centres throughout Europe by the Zagorian sailing ships.

At the same time a serious movement for the promotion and protection of the Greek cultural heritage started with the establishment of the School of Zagora (1712), and its Library a few decades later (1762),


The combined efforts of Ioannis Prigos and the Ecumenical Patriarch Kallinikos lll, both prominent and leading figures of the 18th century Zagora, are to thanked for the foundation and the acclaimed reputation of this historical establishment.

Ioannis Prigos emigrated when he was just a sixteen – year – old boy, in order to learn more and educate himself better. Travelling around Alexandria, Venice and Smirna, he ended up in Amsterdam – Holland where he became very rich through trading, Being a deeply religious man he spent a large sum of money, taking care of the Orthodox Community in Amsterdam. However, most of this great fortune was spent on his hometown Zagora. He had a great desire to improve his country, seeing the progress of Europe and comparing it to the misery and enslavement of Greece. His first generous donation of money, books teaching aids etc, came to Zagora in 1762.

At the same time, Patriarch Kallinikos lll, after a short and troubled Patriarchate in Constantinople and a four- year exile in Sinah, came back to his hometown and took general care of its progress until his death; he School which had already been functioning for 40 years or more and to which he gave the name ‘’Hellinomouseion’’ (literally ‘’Greek Museum’’, in the sense of the ‘’place of the Muses’’, place of art and research, in other words a Greek cultural centre).

The books Ioannis Prigos was sending from Holland and which finally came to a total of 1000

volumes approximately, were kept there together with the Patriarch’ s manuscripts and other

documents famous Zagorians who had high positions in Constantinople, in Russia and elsewhere.

At those important donations consisted mostly of books published in Venice, Rome, Moscow, Vienna, London, The Hague, Amsterdam, Paris and other major cultural centres of Europe. All of them were printed at printers of famous Academies, Royal Colleges and well – known printers such as Aldus Manutius, Hieronymous Commelini and were supervised by wise men like Erasmus Schmid, Balthasar Corderious. Euregene Voulgaris and others. Their contains were classical ancient Greek literature (Home, Plato, Aristotle), religious, historical and geographical subjects too, such as those of the famous Dutch cosmologist Abraham Ortellious and many others.

The fame of ‘’Hellinomouseion’’ spread quickly throughout the area. It was a School offering knowledge High School to University Level, as we would call today. Subjects such as Anciend Greek Philosophy, History, Geography, Physics, mathematics and foreign Languages (Latin and French) were taught. Such a School then, with an enriched and well – organized Library, was certainly expected to attract the interest of many students as well as teachers.

The most eminent of those who studied at Zagoras ‘’Hellinomouseion’’ were, the heroic fighter and folk poet Rigas Feraeos from Velestino , Anthimos Gazis and Gregorios Constadas (leading figures in the Greek uprising), who later on, tried to establish a similar School and Library in their own hometown Milies (another village from Pelion). Amongst the late students and users of the Library at that time, was the Zagorian Philippos Ioannou, the first Philosophy Professor at the National University of Athens.

The most well known teachers f that period, were the famous Zagorian scholar Constantinos Triantafilides and also the Zagorian Nikolaos Kassavetis.

Finally in 1821, when the Great Revolution broke out, the School closed down.


After the closure of the School, the building where the Library was originally housed was demolished, and the books changed location from time to time. They were sporadically used by a few interested locals and foreigners, such as the Zagorian, Theodoros Afentoulis (who later became Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Athens), the French traveller Mazieres and others. As a rule though, the books rermain closed unprotected and unobtainable for any kind of scientific recearch.

With the reunification of Thessaly to independed Greece in 1881, the Community of Zagora started taking care of the Library. Prior to this time and up to present day, new donations of books have been added by either prestigious or ordinary Zagorian people. Since 1955, the Library has been under the Ministry of Education. The donations of books have still continued either by individuals or by various organisations, ministries etc, so that today it includes more than 18.000 books.